Congratulate Ipswich's 'unbelievable' national champions
TO say Ipswich's latest national schoolboy champions had a fantastic year is an understatement.
Head coach Andrew Catton summed it up perfectly in one word: "Unbelievable''.
Catton and long-time Ipswich Grammar School football assistant Mark Fancourt said it was some of the best football ever produced by an under-15 team.
"They delivered performances worthy of being national champions,'' Catton said.
"The bond they've got and they way they just play for each other is just unbelievable.''
IGS were crowned 2019 Bill Turner Cup champions for the first time after beating Endeavour Sports High 2-1 in Wednesday afternoon's final at Lake Macquarie.
That came after the under-15 boys defeated Hunter Sports High 4-1 in Tuesday's semi-final.
The all-conquering IGS team had earlier won the state final to qualify for the national playoffs.
That incredible Bill Turner Cup achievement came after IGS football teams earlier won the ISSA Cup (under 14 tournament), were Oceania Cup champions, runners-up in the Uhlsport Cup and finished third in this year's open GPS competition.
"It's unbelievable. Over the moon we are,'' Catton said, praising his talented group of young footballers.
Catton said the under-15 side also included six 14-year-olds, further highlighting the school's development program.
A key feature of Ipswich Grammar's success was having the under 15s play a similar style of football to the school's open team.
"It just suits them. Other teams find it hard to play against them,'' he said. "They just play for each other.''
The Bill Turner Cup is a national knockout competition for boys and girls 15 years and under. It is contested by schools from Cairns to Melbourne across the football federations of Queensland, Northern NSW, NSW, the ACT and Victoria.
Ipswich Grammar's semi-final win over their Hunter Valley-based opponents was an exceptional performance.
Beating a Sydney team in the final capped off the road to glory.
"They (Endeavour) had a chunk of Sydney FC players in there,'' Catton said. "And in their photos, they were all wearing their Sydney FC shirts.''
Catton said that gave the IGS boys even more to savour. "It was a really good achievement, really proud of them,'' he said.
"It is really satisfying from the point of view that we made it to the Australian titles but I don't think at any point we probably played our best football throughout the entire state campaign.
"For the national campaign, they certainly turned it on.''
IGS captain Pat Smith was named player of the national final after achieving the same honour in the state final. IGS beat Chancellor State College 2-1 in the Queensland final to qualify for the national playoffs.
Attacking midfielder Smith scored the first goal in Wednesday's final.
Elijah Vincent-Tooth scored a double in Tuesday's win.
It was Ipswich Grammar's first Bill Turner Cup title and second time in the national final.
The victorious IGS players and coaching staff were welcomed back at school with a surprise celebration of their achievement.
The winning Ipswich Grammar squad was: TJ Harte, Henry Blackledge, Kye Van Walsum, Joe Perry, Liam Green, Callan Van Walsum, Piper Smart, Zayde Smith, Logan Harmer, Lachlan Pye, Elijah Vincett-Tooth, Toby Smith, Jeremy Casemore, Patrick Smith (captain), Beau Brebner, Luka Mirkovic, Benjamin Binney (vice-captain), Cher Deng. Head coach: Andrew Catton. Assistant coach/manager: Mark Fancourt. Sports medicine officer: Mark Pearson.
National champions record
Bill Turner Cup national final in Lake Macquarie: Ipswich Grammar School 2 (Patrick Smith 22m, own goal) def Endeavour Sports High 1 (Brohden Souris 29m).
Player of the Final: Patrick Smith (Ipswich Grammar School).
Semi-final: Ipswich Grammar School 4 (Elijah Vincent-Tooth 9m, 24m; Beau Brebner 17m, Logan Harmer, 45m) def Hunter Sports High 0.